Availability Evaluation of Ground-to-Air Hybrid FSO/RF Links
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Recently, a hybrid architecture that utilizes the complementary nature of free-space optics (FSO) and radio frequency (RF) links with respect to their individual weather sensitivities was proposed to significantly increase availability for terrestrial broadband links. Based on this architecture, we developed a channel model integrating both the RF and FSO channels. Using the model and cloud distribution data obtained from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, availability of an airborne hybrid FSO/RF link is evaluated. From the results, we conclude that if the FSO link alone is used, availability is greatly hampered by clouds due to attenuation and temporal dispersion. Contrarily, the RF signals are relatively immune to cloud influence, thus improving the hybrid link availability significantly. Furthermore, because of the significant temporal dispersion caused by multiple scattering of cloud particles, availability of FSO links can be improved by using frequency division schemes, though far from compensating for losses incurred by clouds.